For my conference project I created a series of movies that explored my placement in an American context and the ways in which I could use Processing and generative art to challenge or alter the original narrative of the photograph.
I began by finding photographs of American families in Ithaca. I then photoshopped myself into the images and split them into .jpg and .png files with some transparent portions so that I would be able to code in-between the layers.
The code itself was rendered in pure red to emulate the aesthetic of Barbara Kruger’s work. Many of the aesthetic techniques used were also reminiscent of John Baldessari’s dot series, where the graphic obstructions not only created visual tension, but also added a psychological distance between the viewer and the subjects of the photographs.
When I first began the project, all I knew is that I wanted to use photographs so I would have some tension between the coded graphics and the photographic image. However, I was at a loss for what photographs to use, and the approach I wanted to take. For a while I was browsing through old photos that I had taken. There was no real system, I was just looking for ones that caught my eye. Because there was a lack of purpose, I found it hard to make anything really interesting.
The idea for this slightly more political approach to the project came to me while I was in a thrift store, browsing through various old knick-knacks that, to me, were strongly representative of a specific American narrative. This was just a few weeks after the disheartening election results, and I was questioning my place and future in this country. I had used old found photographs for a previous project whilst I was studying in Berlin, and I knew the existing power and narrative in their composition would provide a fruitful grounding for my project.
Funnily enough, it was the pieces that I hadn’t previously sketched and planned for that turned out to be some of my favorites. Particularly, No.4 and No.5 in my series. I think when I started planning them in my sketchbook first, I was too focused on how to control the code, rather than how to create a system in which the generative nature of my work could create an interesting effect itself.
I also at one point became too reliant on Baldessari’s visual techniques. In No.1, I struggled to manipulate the spirals so that they wouldn’t just end up forming red dots on the faces in the photo, as it would be too similar to the dot series. In the end, I created a piece that changed very incrementally over time, and I think the difference before and after is quite striking.
This change over time was definitely something I wanted to incorporate into my sketches, to make the photographs more dynamic and so that I could take full advantage of the properties of generative art. I was surprised to find that the vertex drawings I did, and changing them incrementally over time, wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
For No.2, I assigned variables to each vertex point of each shape, and added a noise incrementation so that they seemed to be expanding and growing in a somewhat organic fashion.
In every sketch, the axes that crossed particular portions of the photograph were very important. Mostly, I aligned the sketches to an axis that crossed over the eyes of the subjects. Though I wanted to differentiate myself from Baldessari, I also recognized that distracting and obstructing the face often had the most jarring effect on the viewer.
I also used loops in most, if not all, of my sketches. The allowed me to create these graphic accumulations onto of the images.
Because I was pretty excited about this project, time management wasn’t too much of an issue. However, I wasn’t quite aware when I started how many steps there would be. The process involved going to a number of thrift stores and flea markets, carefully selecting images, scanning them in, editing myself into them, creating the code, then finally creating the movie files. What took the most time was creating the code, but I did feel myself growing more comfortable with the code. I was much more careful with commenting out which code did what, which gave allowed me to navigate through the code more easily. Though control isn’t the ultimate goal of generative art, the ability to understand my code more easily gave me a certain measure of clarity so I could ensure that my goals would be fulfilled in the project.
One of my main concerns would be whether or not the insertion of myself into the images is fully necessary or even noticeable in many of the pieces. Aside from the wedding photo, I inserted myself into the periphery of the images, purposely out of the main line of site.
With No. 4, I feel as though suddenly it becomes noticeable that, of all the faces turned towards the camera, only mine isn’t obstructed in the end. No.1 also has me in the periphery, and when the image turns red and everyones eyes are marked out, mine is the only one left.
However, with No.2, I inserted myself with my back turned. I’m not sure if my insertion here is done to any effect, really. And the accumulations on the three main subjects, while it erases them, doesn’t distract from them at all. In fact, my focus has mainly stayed on them.
At the end of the day, I’m quite proud of what I accomplished with this project. I like the series as a whole, and I think the pieces do quite well together. I think the red on the high contrast black and white photographs is quite striking, and I think I definitely achieved my goal in changing the narrative and nature of the photographs throughout the series.
My conference project’s theme is nature and its replication using code. Nature is known to follow a system and set of rules while utilizing the slightest bit of unpredictability. The same can be said for coding: there are rules to follow, but there’s a lot of room for randomness. I wanted to incorporate this within my code and find just how close to the beauty of nature I could make my sketches. I was very inspired by Holger Lippmann’s work representing aspects of the natural world in his art.
When I began each sketch, I had a few guidelines but not many. For instance, the first sketch I created was Push + Pull based on my original sketchbook drawing of an ocean with the tide coming in and out. I knew what I wanted the general sketch to look like, but I was not prepared for the outcome which exceeded my expectations. With the use of multiple gradients, I was able to form the landscape without using defined shapes. Rather, the gradients are made up of individual lines that change color with each y value (probably?). Then, to add the value of the waves hitting the sand, I used simple noisy white lines. I was very pleased with the end result, not aware that I would even consider using multiple gradients. Even now there is still more I’d like to add, for instance clouds or boats in the distance, but for now I’m very happy with this sketch.
My following sketch Anthocyanin is based on an idea I had of flower garden. Flowers are very interesting and difficult to replicate exactly the same each time. Much like natural flowers, my coded flowers take on new identities with every run of the program. This was my most difficult sketch because it required me to take a concept like Wave Clocks, which has a lot of different parts, and expand upon it. I had to first find the right flow I wanted the petals to follow, but due to the noise in the sketch I could not create the same exact flower each time. I was disappointed, but eventually I made it work by controlling the variables as much as I could. However, it was very frustrating to find what exactly I could control and how. The rest was just a matter of finding the right colors and locations for each of the flowers.
Right now I’m still trying to perfect my Drip Drop sketch. It looks almost identical to the original sketchbook drawing I made earlier in the semester. I really loved the idea and wanted to make it as close to the original as possible. The idea was to create puddles during the rain, and as the rain falls there are ripples throughout the puddles. Instead of using a function to create raindrops like I had originally planned, I found I liked the appearance of simple random ellipses popping up.
Encompassing Sun is the one sketch I implemented 3D in. The first part of my sketch was the sphere in the center, and to make it more dynamic I wanted it to be a rotating sphere that zoomed in and out throughout the sketch. From there I discovered you could get some really interesting patterns when adding the rotate() function to noisy lines, hence the sun’s outer design. There was a lot I had to consider with this sketch such as transform() and push and pop matrix. A lot of it was just guess and check until I finally began to see how things were affected with each change. My plan was to originally just have the sun in the center, but I wanted other spaces in the sketch to be interesting as well, so the other rotating spheres could be other planets. It was a fun sketch that took me by surprise considering how much new material I used that I didn’t even think I would consider.
All in all, I’m very happy with my work for this conference. It’s really satisfying to see simple sketches in a notebook become dynamic artworks in code. I’m always surprised how different the final product is from my original intention, but I’ve always found it to be for the better. There’s still a lot I need to learn and understand in order to better control my sketches, but I’m very happy with where I am right now.
“How was it to make?” My classmates and I were asked this question all semester, and it always stuck out to me as such a startling question. Each time I thought about it, my mind went blank. How was it to make? It was just hard and complicated and confusing, and most of all, frustrating. But it was also amazing and beautiful and so dumbfounding. How am I supposed to put hours of staring at a screen, countless dashed hopes, and unexpected results into words?How was it making this conference project? The first word that comes to mind is stressful, probably because I just really wanted to get it right. More than anything, I just wanted to get it right and do everyone and everything justice. This made every second that I worked on and thought about my project miserable, until today, when I finished recreating the five Vasarely pieces, and made a few Vasarely-inspred sketches like the one shown here. Honestly, I don’t know what changed. One theory is the pressure of having to complete this post. The necessity to finish everything made me appreciate Vasarely’s work, the process of coding, and what I’ve learned this semester a lot more. I actually enjoyed working on conference today, which is something I couldn’t say before. Whenever I complete an assignment, a paper, a project, I always say that I could’ve managed my time better so that I didn’t have to do so much at the very end, but at this point, I think it’s just my style. I actually like the doing the work when I have the high pressure to complete it. I’m happy with my project as it is now, and I’m excited to incorporate more animation, some interactivity, complexity, and the logical next step, make some optical art in the third dimension. This project will never really be complete, as I will always be trying to astound the brain with my art, whether that’s generative or any other type. I have many plans to continue using Processing and inspirational artists like Vasarely and Bridget Riley to make things that amaze. This project has definitely been helpful in mastering a lot of basic coding concepts like variables and loops, but I have also been forced to use colors beyond grayscale and the occasional purple. What I gained most from this semester was of course learning a new awesome skill. I had known some Java previously, but this level of understanding is not something I expected from myself. I also have so much more appreciation for technology, and I have been introduced to another facet of art that I will be involved in for probably the rest of my life.
Because some of the previous conference works looked too similar with my work “Daisy,” so I made some change on my piece “Growing” and decided not to use the piece I mentioned in the last post “Windy”. I also added two new pieces called “Funeral” and “Mutate”. All my five pieces show the whole life of a flower: Origin, Growing, Bloom, Mutate and Funeral.
In the “Growing”, I changed the main part of the flowers and made them keep growing.
In the “Funeral”, I used noise to present the background, the loop tocrate a black flower like circle in the middle and the translate to make the grey flower in the center. The black flower-like circle is made by rectangles. It’s difficult for me to combine the black flower-like circle with the animated grey flower together, because they both had their own translate and made the code too complicated.
I had considered about making some difference every several seconds, such as change the background color. But I thought the whole work already looks every intense, the changing of background color would make the audiences anxious.
I love the pieces I have so far and hope the audiences would love them as well.
For my conference project, I am interested in recreating elements of nature using Processing. As we further dissected the definition of Generative Art, I found there to be a close relationship to GenArt and nature itself. Both follow set systems of rules, yet are also full of unpredictability. By using Processing, I’m curious as to how I can utilize its tools of controlled randomness to resemble the various aspects within nature. For instance, my sketchbook consists of loose, random drawings of what came to mind when I thought of nature. I wanted a lot of variety such as curves, noise, harsh lines, detail, looseness, etc.
I was greatly inspired by some of the work I had studied of Holger Lippmann for my artist presentation at the beginning of the semester. Though I chose him at random, I felt a very strong connection to his work and felt it represented a lot of my interests as an artist. His work is full of structured randomness, and that’s something I’d like to use within my conference project. For instance, his works titled NoiseWave IX really caught my attention. While using the same shape over and over, Lippmann was able to create beautiful designs of abstract oceans and beaches. This is where I got the idea of nature from for my conference project. I wanted to create work like Lippmann’s: purely digital that also resembles realistic beauty in the world.
I look back on my Night Waves sketch for Projector Night. It’s as if Night Waves is a baby step towards all I would like to accomplish with this conference. I’ve learned a lot since then, and I hope to expand on the tools used within Night Waves such as noise and variance.
I was inspired by “Wing” by Jack Colton, “Waldorf Sun” by Garret Hsuan, “Membrane” by Moyna Ghosh, “Down the Rabbit Hole” by Nabila Wirakusumah, “Jellybean Solar System” by Meghan Sever, and “Rainbow Cetology 1” by Wade Wallerstein. Their sketches provided me with insight into the relationship between design and realism that I would like to incorporate into my own sketches as well.
When viewing my work, I hope to express both the world of design and the natural world. I want both to be clearly present in my sketches. When people see it, I want them to think, “Wow, that was made with a computer?” I want it to have all the positive aspects of the digital and natural. It’s also important to me that I represent my artistic aesthetic and positively express that to the viewers. I want to share my style, as varied as it is. I have a lot of ideas I’d really like to see through, but in the end I will be picking the 5 best.
I want my sketches to be looped, so at any instance a viewer could jump in and watch without losing the essence of the sketch. For example, I’d love to create a puddle with rain drops falling onto it and creating ripples within the puddle. Using randomness and perhaps mouse-click interactivity, I’d love for rain drops to appear smoothly one after another, or a few at a time. I love the idea of interactivity, but I don’t know if there is room for it in most of my ideas for this conference project. Animation is of course essential. I want the flow of my sketches to be smooth and tame, much like that of nature, for example water dripping off flower petals or the tide on the beach. Variance and noise will be important throughout my work because I feel that helps represent the realism I’m going for. I’ll also be utilizing my own functions throughout my work so as to make the process easier to change at my leisure.
Because I want my sketches to maintain a certain realism, I’m a bit concerned about the amount of detail put into each sketch. I’m still unsure as to “how much is too much”, so along the way I hope to find that balance. In true GenArt style, I always start with an idea in mind but the end result is far from anything I had ever imagined.
The background for my art piece will consist of old, black and white photographs acquired from flea markets and thrift stores around New York state. An image of the artist will be added to the photos inconspicuously.
Using Processing, graphic shapes and lines will be added on top of the images, forming ‘accumulations’ of sorts on top of the subjects. As the accumulations progress, the subjects will be obstructed, changing the narrative of the photograph.
Visually, this work stems from an interest to combine photographic images with drawings and abstracted graphics. Previous explorations into the combining their contrasting visual elements together have focused on creating cohesion between the two types of imagery.
(L: 852 Series “Ladies Market”, R: Empty Series “Fleetwood” both mine)
For this project, I don’t have much of an interest in creating cohesion, instead I want to see the photograph engulfed in the coded visuals.
As it is my last year at Sarah Lawrence College, I naturally find myself wondering about the next chapter in my life. The recent election also has me thinking about my place in this country; how I fit in, and whether or not I want to stay. My family and I have always oriented our lives towards America. Though we have always lived around South East Asia, most of the films, TV shows and culture we consume is American, and my parents’ goal has always been to send me here for higher education.
Through this project, I am physically inserting myself into American family pictures and into the standard of “normality” that Pop Culture asserts the American family life is. I am interested in the different visual effects that can be produced by coding on top of the images, and how these accumulations will grow and alter the photographs. While I think the background in this work will be highly important, I believe that it is the coded imagery that will really change the story of the photograph.
(L: by Barbara Kruger, R: by John Baldessari)
Though I knew I wanted to incorporate photographs into my coding project, I wasn’t sure where else it would go aesthetically, or even what the message would be. At first, I looked to Sonia Sheridan, as she creates generative art that using photographic scans of herself. However, I decided to move away from manipulating the photographs themselves and create generative sketches on top of the photographs instead.
I then looked to John Baldessari, particularly his dot series. I was interested in how the simple graphic shapes obstructing the faces of his subjects changed the narrative and spirit of the images. With their faces covered by dots, Baldessari marks them with anonymity and creates distance between them and the viewer. While the colors are bright, I do feel as though there is an almost sinister, cold feeling to the now-faceless subjects. Because of this effect, I decided to focus my codes on the faces in the photographs. I hope that as the code progresses and the graphics accumulate on their faces, distance will be created between them and the viewer.
I also looked towards Barbara Kruger’s work, particularly regarding style and aesthetic. With simple use of red bars and white text, she writes short, declarative statements across the photographs that make a strong statement to the viewer and forces them to redefine the context of the imagery she uses. I intend on only using black, white and red as well to evoke the same emotional intensity that Kruger’s work has. She also uses photography and imagery that feels iconic and classically American, which ties nicely into my goals for this project.
The code will exist in the foreground of the piece. While the background provides the framework and context, the code is what will fulfill the goals of the piece and of course turn it into generative art. I anticipate that I will keep all, if not most, of the code in red, to stand out from the photograph and create cohesion between the pieces. While I want their form to vary from piece to piece, they will all be made with some noisy incrementation that allows the forms to accumulate and grow with the frame count.
It is important to the piece that the faces of the subjects in the photographs are obstructed by the code, so I would first need to be aware of the placement of the drawings, and the degree to which the noise will spread. To do this I’ll probably have to map coordinate points to orient my drawings to, by measuring the photograph out on Photoshop. Once I have the points from which I want the sketches to begin, I can also set up margins or axes to limit where the code spreads to.
Of course, because this is generative art I don’t want to restrict my code too much. It already will be generative in that I will be creating systems that dictate where these graphic images will show up and how they will look like, and by virtue of the noise function these images will change each time they’re generated. But I also believe that, since these graphics elements are growing, unlike Baldessari’s, the mood or narrative given in the story is also somewhat out of my control. As I decided to insert an image of myself into the piece, I wondered if I should intentionally create a separate .PNG file of myself to layer on top of the code, so that no matter what I wouldn’t be obstructed. But I believe that who and what the code obstructs, though guided at first, could end up changing and the effect may be something worthwhile to see as a generative artist. In short, while I am purposely seeking to change the narrative of these images, I am curious and open to see what the system turns it into.
These are two ideas of what these graphic accumulations will look like, and how I want them to evolve. For the spirals I will definitely be using loops, first to increment the amount of noise in the spiral, then later to draw the lines themselves. I also will keep the alpha on these spirals very low in order to not overwhelm the drawing right away.
For the sketch idea that starts with rectangles, I was inspired by Callum’s piece, “Alive Again”. His seems to have some 3D aspect to it, but I anticipate my sketches will stay within the 2D realm, to keep with my aesthetic goals.
I did experiment with creating more dimension in my conference work earlier, taking advantage of transparent .PNG files and editing a background code as well as a foreground code.
(Sketch using transparent PNG to code in background)
As of right now I’m still considering creating a piece in this way, if it manages to still cohesively work with the Barbara Kruger-aesthetic I’m aiming for.
Something I’ve struggled with this during this class is having my sketches change over time, and not stay stagnant. My earlier pieces definitely didn’t change drastically over a longer period of time, and I took a lot of inspiration for this project from Jack Colton’s pieces, as I always felt like his code did a good job accumulating and changing over time.
Since I was a little kid playing video games on a GameBoy Color, I have been fascinated with the concept of virtual environment. The idea of rendering something that could exist in real life on a computer screen blew my mind. Since then, my studies have brought me into contact with artists like Pipilotti Rist, Petra Cortright, and Lilian Schwartz. Pipilotti Rist creates vivid, completely immersive environments using digitally processed video projection instillations. Her work blurs the line between the organic and the technological. I draw a lot of inspiration from the immersiveness of her works and the aesthetic vibrance. Petra Cortright is a famous net artist from the 00’s. Her command of interconnected web portals, distinct style layering images over each other, and creation of fantastic digital ecosystems (especially HTML ecosystems) have also heavily influenced my work. The idea of the blending of the living and the machine, and the life within the machine, was an idea originally constructed by Lilian Schwartz, whose early computer artworks set a precedent for all future digital art works. Her work revolves around the idea of the life within the code, and the human body’s relationship to the machine. Apotheosis (1972) is perhaps the most sublime work in this exploration. Using computer recorded images from within a radiation chamber, Schwartz animates a human body undergoing cancer treatment. The body cannot live with this barrage by a machine which kills the deadly cancer cells, but it is simultaneously being destroyed (healthy cells are destroyed in the process). In terms of coding style, I have been heavily influenced by Kaili Aloupis, whose out-of-the box coding style helped me to expand my thinking of how I could work with the code. Garrett Hsuan command of the code helped me a lot in terms of logical thinking and technicality—I learned a lot of code logic from studying his work.
Different aspects of my conference project are heavily disordered, whereas other aspects are heavily ordered. Each video in Boolean Oceanography falls into a different category on Gallantner’s Generative Art Systems chart. “Cnidaria Medusozoa” is highly ordered. Each jellyfish in the sketch follows a defined path and increases in size at an exact rate. Randomization comes in in the color. Each time that the sketch repeats, there is no exact same color produced. The interesting part of this sketch, for me, is that despite the fact that the colors are never exactly the same, the sketch looks the same each time that it runs. Despite randomization, there is still uniformity. The level of disorder increases in “Aurelia Aurita 1”. Here, size, shape, and location are given parameters but are not plainly defined. Every other frame, the animation shifts and each time the size, shape, and location of each individual jellyfish location changes. Like “Cnidaria Medusozoa,” each time the sketch runs its different from the time before, however the ultimate effect is the same.
Where the disorder becomes more palpable is in “Rainbow Cetology 1”, in which random colors, locations, and dimensions are generated to create a diverse field of made up of varying versions of my whale sketch. This kind of work relates to the randomization that Gallantner speaks of in artists like Elsworth Kelly and William Burroughs. This kind of work falls into what Gallantner describes as the narrow art historical definition of generative art: “a form of geometrical abstraction in which a basic element is made to ‘generate’ other forms by rotation etc…” This is where my project is limited, and where if I fail I might try again. My project is highly ordered, and controlled. This is validated though, by Gallantner’s assertion that even “an art practice that uses a dynamic complex system to create what is ultimately a static object or recording is still generative art. As is, for that matter, works resulting from the use of simple generative methods,” (Gallantner, 9). Though my work produces somewhat static drawings, they are created using complex systems which produce random and unforeseeable results and thus my work is generative. A further exploration of Boolean Oceanography would include more attempts at giving more autonomy to the system. Right now, the title of the project represents my own technical limitations. Boolean (noun) is a binary variable, having two possible values called “true” and false”. Most of my sketches run based on this principle of “if not this, then this”. This kind of binary logic runs throughout my sketches and is a major theme. Were I to continue on with this project this project, I would attempt to expand this logic to include more parameters whenever possible.
In terms of my code, I relied heavily on the logic of size and direction control. Using the equivalent of “true” and “false” terms, I have been able to animate creatures that go across the screen over and over again. Using the random function, I have been able to randomize color and location in my sketches, as well as add random noise values into my sketches. In “Aurelia Aurita 1”, I have used variance to warp and distort my sketches, and noise to make them move about in a jumpy, twitchy manner. At each step, I have added noise to further distort the images. In “Rainbow Cetology 3” and “Mola Mola” I used dimensionality to create rich, textured backgrounds that vary and are perhaps the most generative aspect of my sketches. These are the places in which I have handed over the most autonomy to the system. In each of these, vector drawing paths have been augmented using noise to create a non-linear path across the screen. Each sketch in Boolean Oceanography contains custom functions which determine the location and direction of my vector drawings. In “Mola Mola” and “Rainbow Cetology 3”, these custom functions set up the basis for the drawing of the elaborate, noisy backgrounds that I have described. For my own personal process, I find the use of axes to limit what I can do with my sketches and instead, for the most part, set x and y coordinates manually. For future progression of this project, I would add interactivity to change the way the viewer engages with the sketches. Right now, each sketch is not very interactive; however, I could see adding mousePressed and keyPressed to have the viewer create the rainbow whale stripes or other vector drawing locations within the sketches.Right now, I expect the viewer to engage with my sketches as escapism—think Ecco the Dolphin meets Cory Arcangel meets the digital equivalent of a chainsaw. I aim for my sketches to be personal, and connect with my viewers. Some of the sketches almost feel like self-portraits. For example, I see a lot of myself in the ocean sunfish that moves across the screen in “Mola Mola”. I have recently been following a series of commissions done by Rhizome called “The Download”. In this series, different artists create a body of work that is then zipped and able to be downloaded by the viewer. In essence, this project turns the desktop space into the gallery space. Similarly, I see my work connecting in viewers’ own intimate spaces in this same way. Alternatively, I can see Boolean Oceanography projected in a single room, each sketch projected on to four walls so that they all overlap each other. The contrast between my technicolored sketches and my black and white sketches, in addition to the contrast between my jumpy, unnatural movement sketches and smooth, flowing, organic movement sketches should make my viewer reconsider what is natural and bring attention back to the medium. Ultimately, I want to turn either my viewer’s desktop space, or a small room that they are in, into a digital ocean.